Going back to 2016, meet grade 11 pre-GFPA Savannah. I was, admittedly, a little bit sceptical about attending an aerospace camp with 120 girls I’d never met before. I was shy, very interested in aviation but not fully aware of the career paths available (especially for girls) and of course intimidated by the mere scale of the industry and how I’d ever get anywhere- it couldn’t possibly be open to me. I had no idea then, that the Girl Fly Programme would impact my life in such an immensely important way, and how it still does to this day.
Not only did the GFPA camp leave me with a complete and clear understanding of what I wanted to do with my career moving forward- I went home with a bag bursting at the seams with notes and brochures and the kind of knowledge I wouldn’t have found elsewhere; a grin so wide my cheeks would ache when thinking of the wonderful memories of fun and laughter with the girls around me as we had the chance to practice paragliding skills, build model planes and make composite material designs together. I watched drones operate, learned how to control them and what they were used for. I spoke to pilots and professionals from all different backgrounds and aerospace-related careers and had the chance to ask them all the questions I needed answers to. I have gifted a beautiful beaded necklace from a camper on the cultural evening, where I learned how blessed it feels to be included in the festivities that other people cherish and I watched as we all became more confident around each other and shared stories to express our backgrounds and our personal interests.
I left that camp with connections to some of the most inspirational and game-changing female professionals in the industry. But I also left the camp with friends from all over the country, who I will always stay in contact with socially and professionally. Having friends to support and motivate you truly gets you through the tough moments where you need a push, and seeing some of my closest friends from the camp become the pilots, air traffic controllers, or engineers that they always wanted to be is the most wonderful and inspiring feeling. Girls supporting girls – it’s amazing to be a part of.
LIFE AFTER CAMP
I began my private pilot’s license at the start of matric and went solo in the Cessna 172 before I turned 18 or could drive a car. Knowing what my career aspirations are really helped me push through matric, and I got accepted into the University of my dreams to study a BSc in Aviation Sciences + business. Furthermore, my love for aviation brought me back to the ladies who I initially met when I applied to GFPA, in search of volunteering opportunities.
Now, I am the Coordinator of the 2018 Girl Fly Programme Africa Aerospace/STEM Camp. I am so excited to be giving back and offering the opportunity that has shaped my life thus far to girls who dream of being in the industry too. I truly hope I can offer the same empowering, educational, life-changing experiences to the GFPA class of 2018 that the foundation offered to me when I was a camper. I want nothing more than to inspire and educate others to help them reach their goals and realize where their passions lie.
I have the kind of love for aviation that words cannot truly express, and I know that I really do have GFPA to thank for sparking that flame. My adventure has been nothing short of magical and overwhelmingly exciting thus far and I so look forward to many more experiences to come! I am immensely grateful for all that I have gained and experienced, and I wish for others to experience great things too.